According to a Lebanese expert on military strategy, General Charles Abi Nader, the U.S. and NATO were surprised by the working visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu's visit to Syria, as it was linked to the current tensions between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine crisis.
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"In the conditions when the United States and Western countries are deliberately escalating the international situation, exploiting the developments around Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visits Damascus to send a warning message from there," noted Abi Nader.
"It implies that Russia will use its strategic facilities in Syria in the event of military confrontation with NATO," underlined the Lebanese general. The Russian official's visit to Damascus coincided with the naval movements in the eastern Mediterranean performed by the Russian part, involving over 15 combat ships of the Pacific, Northern, and Black Sea Fleets, as well as missile cruisers and large anti-submarine warfare ships, and more than 30 aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Force, General Nader added.
The visit of the Russian official to Russia’s Hmeymim airbase and Tartus naval logistics facility in Syria indicated the "significance that Russia attaches to these facilities in the global stand-off. The deployment of Russian long-range aircraft involving Tu-22M3 bombers and MiG-31K fighters with Kinzhal airborne systems to the Hmeymim airfield (SAR) for participation in naval maneuvers suggests that Russia thus perceives most seriously the military and political tension that has emerged," noted the Lebanese official.
The Lebanese expert considers, that the Russian defense minister’s trip to Damascus and his summit with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "will raise military-technical cooperation with Syria to a new strategic level, which will go beyond the scope of the tasks announced earlier for jointly fighting terrorism."
Russian Defense Minister Shoigu's working trip to Damascus was under the command of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the Defense Ministry reported that military-technical cooperation was discussed with the Syrian leader.
The joint fight against the remnants of the gangs of international terrorists, and also some aspects of Russia’s humanitarian assistance to the Syrian population suffering from the U.S. and Western sanctions, were also topics during the meeting.